With the baseball season coming next Thursday and the MLB allowing teams to schedule some exhibition games, the KC Royals have decided to take on the Houston Astros, and their in-state rivals the St. Louis Cardinals. Here is what to expect from the Royals in these games.
There are a couple of things to expect with these games, to start, do not expect a lot of the day one starters to play a lot. A reason for this is the KC Royals probably do not want to have many injuries to key players. The only game you should expect the starters to be in is probably game two against the Astros as a dress rehearsal before the season starts.
The only starters you will likely see the most of are Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez, Ryan O’Hearn, and Ryan McBroom, the players fighting for a spot, both Ryan’s, coming back from injury, Sal, or learning a new spot in the field, Whit.
On the topic of the Ryan’s of the team, expect some position battles to be finalized in these three games. The position battles that are the most interesting are first base, the fourth outfield spot, and a couple of bullpen spots as Tim Hill was traded to the San Diego Padres. I will give a preview of each position battle below.
For the first base battle between the Ryan’s, lets start with a quick run-down of what to expect from these two as they both are coming off a scorching hot spring training. Ryan O’Hearn is the incumbent and has been the starter since 2018 when he was called up and was on fire for his cup of coffee in the majors. Ryan McBroom last season also had a good run in the majors and could takeover first base if he can show the same prowess hitting as he did last season.
The fourth outfield spot got a lot more interesting with the Tim Hill trade that brought Franchy Cordero to the Royals, because the spot was up for grabs between Bubba Starling, Brett Phillips, Khalil Lee, and Nick Heath. Now though expect Franchy Cordero to be the heavy favorite as he has a good blend of speed, power, and fielding capabilities to play all outfield spots. What I expect from this is that Cordero wins outright but Starling or Phillips get traded or DFA’d as they both have no options left, and for Lee and Heath to be sent back to AAA.
The bullpen spots might be a little easier to determine since there are only two spots available. The players in this battle are Tyler Zuber, Randy Rosario, Scott Blewett, Greg Holland, and Braden Shipley. The two players I would want to see win these spots are Randy Rosario as he would replace Tim Hill as the lefty in the bullpen, and Tyler Zuber because he has a nasty curveball and is coming off his best season in the minors with a 1.79 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 68 strikeouts in 55.1 innings. The problem with Zuber winning the spot is that the Royals signed Greg Holland to a prove-it deal last offseason so you should expect Holland over Zuber to win a spot.
Now that the position battles are wrapped up, another thing to expect is the young guns in the starting rotation to get some innings. I fully expect the KC Royals to get innings for Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic, Austin Cox, and Daniel Lynch. Now, these players could also factor into the bullpen fight, especially since the season is shorter and most teams are probably not going to run the traditional five-man rotations for a 60-game season.
Now for the last thing to expect from these exhibition games is a lot of prospects from both sides. These games will probably look more like a minor league game with some major league players, but these games mean a lot to the prospects for all the teams playing these games. The games are a proving ground for these prospects to show their respective organizations that they are going to be great assets down the road.
Some prospects to look out for on the Royals are Nick Pratto, Humberto Arteaga, Seuly Matias, and Nick Heath. These players either have not lived up to expectations or have not gotten a whole lot of time in the spotlight.
The last thing is that these games will be aired on FSKC on Monday, July 20 at 7:05 pm, Tuesday, July 21 at 1:05, and lastly July 22 at 3:05. Then after that, the season starts with the KC Royals on the 24th against the Cleveland Indians.